With two years left on his contract and with Liverpool in need of a rebuild, there is no better time for Jadon Sancho to make the mutually beneficial move to Anfield.
After this strangest of seasons finally winds down, many players will find themselves in a position where time is ripe for change.
Contracts are ticking closer to expiration, ambitions are heightening and football, hopefully, is on the steady path back to some semblance of normality.
One of these players with a big decision to make is Jadon Sancho.
The England international had his every move watched last summer, as the eyes of the football world waited for what, at many points, seemed like an inevitable transfer to Man United being confirmed.
Sancho had made it clear that he was ready to return to English football and make a name for himself in the Premier League, yet stopped well short of openly flirting with and/or talking up a move to Old Trafford.
Something seemed a little off.
There was no push from the player, followed by a heavy reluctance from United to meet Dortmund’s lofty valuation. Now, soon-to-be 12 months on, the winger is in the shop window again.
With an additional year down on his contract, which runs until 2023, now is the prime time for Dortmund to cut a deal and get a good price for Sancho. Like Liverpool, they could be facing next season without the added cash injection of Champions League football.
Dortmund’s £120 million valuation of last year has weakened somewhat, coupled with the fact the youngster made what was deemed to be a lethargic start to the campaign.
The last few months have seen Sancho come back to the fore and, if nothing else, it has become abundantly clear he would be the perfect signing for Liverpool.
Young, potential-laden and available at a good price (given the market). For sure, Liverpool’s FSG hierarchy would have to dig deep to tie the ends together on a deal, but this one makes sense all ends up.
Sancho has all the makings to be a consistently world-class player, yet it would be foolish to overlook the fact that Liverpool’s owners will still see the dangling carrot of the potential re-sell.
It is after all the long-serving model.
Jurgen Klopp‘s track record for enhancing players suggests that, given the way football’s financial climate is going, Sancho could very easily become a £200 million player under his command.
The London-born starlet only this week turned 21, yet is already considered Champions League calibre and features at the top of the wishlist of most of, if not all of, Europe’s top teams.
Put simply, Liverpool and FSG will never have a better opportunity to bring on board such talent for less than £100 million – given the contract situation – with an almost nailed-on guarantee that he will rocket in value.
The cynical aspects aside, however, the player himself is everything Liverpool have been lauded for over the past 18 months, prior to this season’s injury-ravaged meltdown.
Fast, inventive, exciting, clinical on the counter, always looking to make beautiful football happen. Sancho has shown all these things and more at Signal Iduna Park.
But enough of the mere aesthetics, what are the numbers saying?
From 21 Bundesliga matches so far this season, Sancho has six goals and nine assists. It doesn’t quite live up to last season’s trailblazing efforts, whereby he finished the campaign with 17 goals and 17 assists from 32 league matches.
It was extraordinary stuff from the then-teenager, who was vastly over-performing. This season, however, the figures again signify that the former Man City man is doing above what is expected.
From games played so far, his Bundesliga expected goals (xG) sits at 5.49 while his expected assists (xA) is 6.79. Again, Sancho is ahead of the curve – in a Dortmund team which has been badly struggling, it is important to note.
Of Liverpool’s current forward line only Mo Salah has more league goal involvements this season with 20, compared to the winger’s 15.
Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino both have just 11, while summer signing Diogo Jota has registered six despite being out for several months through injury.
Sancho has more assists than any of the Reds’ faltering front line. Firmino comes close with six, though Sancho has three more and has played six league games fewer than the Brazilian.
What is special about the English youngster is his innate ability to craft a chance for a team-mate, even when his own performance is looking rather sub-par.
This is something Liverpool have been crying out for this season. That spark, a trigger, something to set off the avalanche in the final third and whirr the forward line into life.
Sancho is young, fresh and hungry. He has a point to prove in English football, and a certain Egyptian forward is testament to that being a quite brilliant thing.
City deemed Sancho not ready to break into the senior ranks. He opted to prove them wrong in such devastating and pioneering fashion. It is no coincidence that a huge increase of English footballers moving to Germany has occurred as a result of Sancho’s success.
These are character traits that will greatly appeal to Klopp. Confidence, aspiration and determination.
It is also not too fanciful to suggest that Sancho will show strong enthusiasm towards the prospect of coming to work under such a manager. After all, chances of this are soon to be limited, one can sadly assume.
Klopp will serve from the Liverpool dugout until 2024 after his recent contract extension, after which it is highly likely a crowning glory shot at managing the German national team will follow before retirement.
Klopp, after all, has always maintained he does not wish to become an “old manager.”
The timing this summer, therefore, is perfect. Liverpool have risen to the summit of world football once more and the moment for rebuilding is now.
The forward line, so revered across the whole of Europe, is taking applications for a new hero.
Dortmund’s revised asking price for Sancho, whenever it is officially laid down, will no doubt stretch Liverpool’s resources, particularly after a year compounded by a pandemic.
The working relationship with Klopp may soothe matters, but this is a move Liverpool really should take. Act decisively now and they would be getting the best years of one of the most exciting players on the continent, for a competitive price.
The past 12 months have brought the most mixed of emotions for Liverpool. Times have been tough for the reigning champions – which feels like an over-privileged thing to say, but it’s true.
With the acquisition of Sancho, it could well be time for an exciting new dawn.